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Viewing entries tagged with 'empathy'

Diversity is hard work

Posted by Philip on 16 June 2017, 3:17 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

When I began working for myself in 1998 I read a book — I can't remember which — that made an important distinction between hard work and difficult work. I've never forgotten it.

Hard work is about being persistent, disciplined, committed and, sometimes, working long hours (especially in the case of starting a business). Difficult work is complicated, confusing or highly technical — it takes a certain level of intellectual or specialist "grunt" to achieve the desired outcome.

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Child criminals are victims — twice over

Posted by Philip on 24 June 2014, 12:27 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

The arrest of 12 and 13 year old boys for aggravated robbery and murder respectively in West Auckland a couple of weeks ago highlights a growing malaise in society. The incident itself is a tragedy for the victim and his family, but what is alarming to me is that the two offending boys are victims too — of whatever circumstances led them to offend and now, potentially, of the justice system as well.

The bi-polarity of the justice system, which recognises only victim and offender, clearly fails children in these situations. The stories of those like twelve-year-old Bailey Kurariki (NZ 2001), James Bulger's ten-year-old killers (UK 1993) and eleven-year-old Mary Bell (UK 1968), all of whom were charged and sentenced, point toward a "punishment system" that in no way takes into consideration that these children were too young to be held solely responsible for their actions.

A system that believes kids can be guilty of violent crimes without asking, "How did they become capable of violent crimes?", is one that lacks empathy and compassion. Having empathy and compassion for the kids does not diminish feeling for the victims. It simply acknowledges the existence of complex situations that don't follow "victim/perpetrator" patterns.

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My 17,000 pageviews of 2013

Posted by Philip on 13 December 2013, 2:23 pm in , , , , , , , ,

Today is officially my last day of work until February so I thought I'd look back through my five most popular posts of the year.

5. Understanding disability from a place of empathy

The fifth most read post on my blog in 2013 was one I actually wrote way back in February 2012, where I wanted to encourage, in the disability social change space, empathy in place of sympathy. When considering the difference between empathy (understanding) and sympathy (pity), I got thinking about the astounding amount of sympathy or pity people display about the experience of disability.

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National Youth Drama School visit

Posted by Philip on 22 April 2013, 12:06 pm in , , , , , ,

Saturday 20 April 2013 saw me wing my way to Havelock North via Napier to speak at the opening of the National Youth Drama School.

View on Youtube

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From sympathy to empathy – understanding disability

Posted by Philip on 2 February 2012, 5:48 pm in , , , ,

I'm currently reading a very interesting book — "I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power", by TEDster Brene Brown. The book's core themes are the causes and connections between shame, courage, empathy and compassion.

One of the sub-themes Brown talks about is the difference between empathy (understanding) and sympathy (pity). Instantly I got thinking about the astounding amount of sympathy or pity people display about the experience of disability.

Brown says sympathy conveys the idea that you could not possibly understand someone's experience, while also implying that you are glad you cannot. "In most cases, when we give sympathy we do not reach across to understand the world as others see it," she writes. "Inherent in sympathy is, 'I don't understand your world, but from this view things look pretty bad.'"

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